Friday, May 13, 2011

Ss Constantine & Helena, Equal-to-the-Apostles & Outdoor Shrine

On May 21st in the Life of the Church, we commemorate Ss Constantine & Helena (Emperor and his Mother).  These two saints of the Orthodox Faith are extremely important due to their great influence of spreading Christianity throughout the Roman Empire in the 4th century.  Great "mythology" follows their lasting legacy upon the Christian Church and impact of Roman society.

Ss Constantine & Helena
Image Source

Constantine the Great is a polarizing figure in history; there are many questions regarding his status as a political leader, influencial personality, and Christian.  Many historians question his Christianity, especially due to the fact that that he was only baptized on his deathbed (although this was common practice during this time), as well as his stance during the great theological debates of his time.

During his struggle to gain power of the Empire as its sole ruler, he prayed to God to give him a sign which would inspire his army to fight valiantly, and the Lord showed him a radiant Sign of the Cross in the heavens with the inscription "In this Sign, conquer."

After Constantine became the sole ruler of the Western Roman Empire, he issued the Edict of Milan in 313 which guaranteed religious tolerance for Christians. In 323, when he became the sole ruler of the entire Roman Empire, he extended the provisions of the Edict of Milan to the Eastern half of the Empire. After three hundred years of persecution, Christians could finally practice their Faith without fear.

Renouncing paganism, the Emperor did not let his capital remain in ancient Rome, the former center of the pagan realm. He transferred his capital to the East, to the city of Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople.  The new emperor was deeply convinced that only Christianity could unify the immense Roman Empire with its diverse peoples. He supported the Church in every way, recalling Christian confessors from banishment, building churches, and showing concern for the clergy.

His mother, Helena provided great influence over her son as he became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire and its transition from paganism into a Christian Empire.  She traveled to Palestine in search of the Holy & Live-Giving Cross of our Lord.  While in Palestine, the holy empress did much to benefit the Church. She ordered that all places connected with the earthly life of the Lord and His All-Pure Mother, should be freed of all traces of paganism, and she commanded that churches be built at these sites.

Because of their great service to the Church and efforts in converting the masses to Christianity, the emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena are called "the Equal-to-the-Apostles."

At St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, TX, we are blessed to have an Outdoor Shrine dedicated to Ss Constantine & Helena.  This Shrine with a large size icon, as well as surrounding beautiful landscape and large water fountain is a wonderful addition to the parish community.

Outdoor Shrine of Ss Constantine & Helena
Icon of Ss Constantine & Helena
Last year on their feastday, OCF of Greater Houston held a Supplication Service led by Rev. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt.  It was a unique experience to worship God and ask intercessions of Ss Constantine & Helena in an outside setting.  Please join us again this year on Friday evening (May 20th) at 7:00p for services at the Outdoor Shrine of Ss Constantine & Helena.

Enjoy some pictures from last year's service:

Rev. Fr. Joseph Huneycutt leading our service

Who let that guy chant?
Big smiles!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

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